Social Hall, Union Theological Seminary
March 3, 2011, Broadway at 121st Street
New York City
"Discovered" by the Spanish conquistadores in 1492, the Caribbean island of Quisqueya or Hispaniola was eventually divided into Spanish and French colonies. As such, the countries that developed out of this geographic severing came to experience histories that would bring them face-to-face in moments of war, genocide, national unification or separation, natural disasters, health crises, and migratory processes. Hence the physical boundary, la frontera, the frontier, that divides what are now the Haitian and the Dominican Republics is a threshold that, while attempting to define two nations, allows Dominican-ness and Haitian-ness to become malleable categories.
Today, the Haitian-Dominican border remains a long umbilical cord reminding the two siblings of a common origin, a porous divisor that is constantly permeated by love, violence, corruption, death and hope. The offspring of European colonization of the so-called New World and recurring United States military involvement and territorial occupation, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, despite their corporeal proximity, remain to this day two politically polarized entities sharing one single island. The time has never been better for a dialogue between the two neighbors, whether in French, Creole, Spanish, Spanglish or Dominicanish. The stage is ready.